Energy & Environment

Udall is retiring, but he will leave behind a weighty environmental legacy
Udall described environmental destruction to Earth as a crisis that demands pressing urgency in a retirement statement

Ranking member of the subcommittee Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M, attends a Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Dirksen Building. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When Sen. Tom Udall departs the Senate in 2021, he will leave behind a weighty environmental legacy built with bipartisan help, progressive principles, and a clarion call to tackle climate change.

In a statement on Monday announcing he would not seek re-election in 2020, the New Mexico Democrat described environmental destruction to Earth as a crisis that demands pressing urgency.

Caribbean Islands becoming hot spots for Chinese investment
Marco Rubio, says he is ‘very concerned’ about China’s efforts to extend influence into Latin American and the Caribbean

The Freeport Container Port on Grand Bahama Island. (iStock)

On Grand Bahama Island, some 55 miles off the continental United States, a Hong Kong-based company has spent approximately $3 billion developing and expanding a deep-water container port.

The Freeport Container Port’s Chinese and Bahamian backers expect to benefit from increased shipping through the region as a result of the expansion of the Panama Canal, not to mention an overall boost in trade between China and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Road ahead: As Congress digests Mueller conclusions, it has plenty more on its plate
House will attempt to override Trump’s veto, while Senate takes up Green New Deal

A Capitol Visitor Center employee sets up a shade umbrella last Tuesday outside the CVC entrance. The Senate and House minority parties may need an umbrella to block the shade the majorities plan to throw at them this week amid votes on the Green New Deal and overriding a presidential veto. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Hill spent much of the weekend waiting to find out what special counsel Robert S. Mueller III discovered about Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 election. But as Congress digests the principal conclusions of his report, prepared by Attorney General William P. Barr, leaders will also try to get members to address other priorities.

Barr’s four-page letter sent to Congress on Sunday afternoon stated that Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts.”

The ABCs of the Green New Deal
If climate change is the fulcrum propping up the plan, economic inequality is the foot stomping down on the raised end of the seesaw

For supporters of the Green New Deal resolution — sponsored by Sen. Edward J. Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — the threat of climate change is a fulcrum to tackle the country’s social, economic, racial and historical ills. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Since the dangers of greenhouse gases became clear, American politicians have whittled away at climate change in incremental steps: energy-efficiency policies, U.N. climate treaties, basic research, fuel-consumption standards.

But they have not enacted a comprehensive plan to address climate change at the scale and with the speed climate scientists say is required to insulate humanity from what is to come.

Child care is infrastructure. We should treat it that way
Just as our bridges and roads are crumbling, so too are our child care options

For some parents, dropping their kids off at day care involves a leap of faith, Smith and Tracey write. Above, children run a relay race in front of the Capitol in 2015. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Millions of American parents dropped their children off at a child care facility this morning. Chances are many of those facilities don’t meet basic health and safety standards. Though we know the quality of a facility, whether a formal center or a family home care site, is directly linked to a child’s development and well-being, we also know most places are far from optimal.

This is yet another way America’s child care system is failing families today.

Yes, Trump’s budget really does promote evidence-based policies
And it’s doing so in a responsible way

President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget isn’t perfect, but it includes many policies that push our government to become more evidence-based, Hart writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — When presidents send budget proposals to Congress, they include funding requests and broad policy statements. But what lies beneath the surface is often critical for understanding real priorities.

The broad contours of President Donald Trump’s latest budget will come as no surprise: increases to defense spending, cuts to nondefense spending, and a goal to eventually reduce the deficit long after his administration is gone.

Canoeists claim victory on access to Potomac River near Trump’s golf club
Coast Guard publishes a new rule creating an access corridor

Area canoeists are claiming a legal victory over access restrictions in the Potomac River. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of area canoeists is claiming victory after the Coast Guard announced new regulations that will make it easier for paddlers to float down the Potomac River while President Donald Trump is at his Northern Virginia golf club.

“The paddling community has a voice and we effectively used it to execute change,” Canoe Cruisers Chairman Barbara Brown said in a statement. “The Potomac River is for the American people and we’re glad to see their access to it restored.”

DC’s plastic straw ban stirs up feelings on Capitol Hill
Deadline for compliance with straw ban is July

The Longworth Dunkin’ Donuts is one of the eateries on Capitol Hill transitioning to non-plastic straws. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

If your warm-weather routine calls for a switch from hot coffee to iced, prepare yourself. Spring is officially here, and the plastic exodus is underway, according to Roll Call’s audit of straws on Capitol Hill.

Many staffers first felt the shift at the Longworth Dunkin’ Donuts, if all the queries we got in recent weeks are any indication. “What’s the deal with the paper straws at Dunkin’?” was a popular refrain.

This Democrat seeks GOP support with new climate action plan
Paul Tonko hopes to win over Republicans by tying solutions to job creation, technological advancements and other policies

Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., speaks during the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force news conference on the release of the 2018 legislative agenda for the 115th Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A House Democrat hopes he can win over GOP support for a climate action by tying solutions to job creation, technological advancements and policies that do not create uncertainty for industry and families.

Rep. Paul Tonko who chairs the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, said Thursday he plans to tap into the apparent willingness of more Republicans recently to talk about climate change and come up with solutions both parties can agree on.

Expect offshore drilling to play role in next week’s Interior secretary confirmation
The increased focus all but assures the plan will be part of Bernhardt’s confirmation next Thursday

The Atlantic Ocean is seen adjacent to President Donald Trump's beachfront Mar-a-Lago resort, the day after Florida received an exemption from the Trump Administration's newly announced ocean drilling plan on Jan. 11, 2018, in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Democrats are pressuring acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to release the department’s updated plan for opening the Atlantic Ocean to offshore drilling, foreshadowing an increased focus on a proposal opposed by lawmakers of both parties.

In a letter sent Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, of New York, and 16 other Democratic senators asked Bernhardt to release details about the department’s draft five-year oil and gas leasing program for the Outer Continental Shelf, including which states will be included in the next version of the proposal.

‘The River and the Wall,’ a journey down the wall’s path
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 62

Ben Masters, director of "The River and the Wall," right, discusses his movie about the Rio Grande and the immigration and border issues around it with Political Theater Podcast host Jason Dick. (Nathan Ouellette/CQ Roll Call)

House Appropriations may start markups in April
Markups have to begin in April or May at the latest to have any chance of bills passing on the floor in June

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chair of the House Appropriations Committee walks across the Capitol from the House side for a meeting with House and Senate appropriators in an effort to revive spending talks and avert a second shutdown on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey and Democratic appropriators are looking at starting fiscal 2020 markups as soon as late April with the Defense, Labor-HHS-Education and Legislative Branch bills, people familiar with the process said.

The Military Construction-VA and Energy-Water bills also are on tap to be among the first five bills marked up, as part of an effort to begin advancing bills across the floor in June.

On the campaign trail, climate change can no longer be ignored
Democrats try to out-green each other as presidential race heats up

The Blue Cut Fire in San Bernardino County, California, destroyed 37,000 acres and more than 300 structures in August 2016. (David McNew/Getty Images)

The 2020 elections are still many months away, but 17-year-old Michael Minsk is already following it closely as more candidates enter the race. Eager to vote for the first time next year, the high school junior is looking for a candidate promising bold action on climate change.

“Climate change is definitely one of the issues I will be voting on along with other social and economic problems,” said Minsk, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. “I am tired of corruption in government that prevents politicians from acting on it, so I want someone that will stand up and make changes.”

Visit by ‘Trump of the Tropics’ puts ‘America First’ in spotlight
Bolsonaro’s embrace gives Trump another chance to pitch himself as fighting socialism

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, left, poses with Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared iterim president Juan Guaido during a news conference in Brasilia on February 28. (Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)

A populist message built on a pledge to put his country “first.” Hardline immigration policies. A get-tough-on China stance. And a controversial relationship with conservative strategist Steve Bannon.

Though that description certainly applies to President Donald Trump, it could also describe the man with whom Trump will appear Tuesday in the White House Rose Garden: Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s new president.

Some climate change panel members are literally invested in the issue
Panel members have investments in fossil fuel companies, and at least two have ties to clean-energy industries

Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., attends a House Oversight and Reform Committee business meeting in the Rayburn Building in January. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

One member of the House committee created to address climate change stands out for what he owns: hundreds of oil and gas wells in North Dakota oil fields worth millions of dollars.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong, a Republican from North Dakota, received at least $400,000 from those wells and as much as $1.1 million in the previous year, as well as $75,000 in salary from Armstrong Corp., his family’s oil and gas business. He also owns at least 289 wells, worth between $2.9 million and $11.5 million, though in a recent interview Armstrong said he owns more than 300 wells.